Is there a Need for Network-Level Privacy: P2P, TOR, and MIXNET?
Security is becoming a pivotal issue in almost every aspect of one’s life irrespective of one’s location. The dire alertness that a large percentage of the population has gotten since the early 2000s has assisted in the desire to update platforms and applications functioning under centralized as well as decentralized architecture(s). One factor among others for the desire to update the privacy even at the network level is numerous cases of corruption that have happened in the Western nations as well as Eastern nations to-date. You should keep in mind that such urgency for modification hasn’t arisen overnight. The channel for communication/transfer of information (general/secret) started via word-of-mouth. Then the information started getting sent or received via coaxial wires. You might say that it’s around 1900s, that the idea of encryption came into the picture. Then we saw it get imbibed into the Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). At the moment, the modification being done is the next level of the Internet Protocol Suite. This piece will give you some idea about the need for having network-level privacy in a decentralized platform.
It is stated in this piece that the key technologies for building up a covert network channel encompass two levels, namely communication content level, and transmission network level. While some data is shared or transferred, the meta-data (message source IP address, destination IP address), as well as the communication mode (interval of packets), can’t be concealed via encryption. But network covert channel is an out-of-the-ordinary communication technique hence identity concealment of both the parties can be achieved making the eavesdroppers unable to figure out the communication happening between the two parties. In crux, the utilization of covert channels assists in intensifying the content security of encrypted traffic and filing p the loopholes that encryption cannot safeguard the security of communication connection. The internet steganography comprises of CTC (covert timing channel) and CSC (covert storage channel). These help in hiding the messages in the temporal behavior of the traffic or storage fields in the network protocol. If you click on this link and see the figure 1, you will get an idea of how covert channels function at the backend (the figure shows just one way of sending the message covertly). So it’s wise to think that the figure is just one illustration. The technology utilized for covert network channel’s construction is divided into four categories, namely:
- Inter-arrival time
- Rate modulation
- PDU order modulation
- PDU retransmission
The mentioned above categories are built via pattern language markup language.
The inter-arrival time is the most employed one where the transmission of messages is done by altering the interval between network PDU’s. In the rate modulation, the covert channel sender modifies the data rate traffic flow leading to exhaustion of the performance of a switch which affects the throughput of the connection to the receiver. For encoding the secret message, the covert channel retransmits predecessor PDU sent or received. The process works on RSTEG (retransmission steganography) incepted by Mazurczyk at al. The core innovation of RSTEG is not to acknowledge the success of received packet and hence force the sender to resend, making the packet carry the secret message again. The overall technique is referred to as PDU retransmission. The overall development of the transmission network level can be categorized into E2E (End to End) proxy and E2M (End to Middle) proxy. To understand quickly and affectively, see figure 2, where the background process in mentioned differentiating between E2E and E2M. This piece in short gave a broad idea about how covert network channels are built. The following piece of research talks about a specific illustration.
Since the inception of the Internet, we’ve been able to know what’s happening around the world instantly via web browsers and other applications. Just like transformation(s) are being underway in the financial services, medical sector (other industries on the same path) technological transformation is also experiencing disruptions from many angles. Web browsing is one angle where the shift from authoritative form to an open-source form took place pretty early. Tor browser is one example which became popular after the financial crisis of 2008-09 took place.
The above info-graphic showcases the background functioning of how data travels from the server and gets the data packet encrypted and/or decrypted before reaching the user. Tor browser is also sometimes called as an onion router. Just like while peeling an onion, numerous of its skin fragments get detached, similarly, the Tor browser alters its path every 10 minutes for ensuring anonymity. The relay nodes of the overlay have the information about the predecessor and successor relay nodes in the whole virtual circuit. Each fresh virtual circuit built from a fresh selected set of relay nodes. Unlike other browsers (some of them) where you (the user) get the option of using VPN (a virtual private network) as an alternative, Tor browser only uses private browsing mode for ensuring privacy throughout the time the Internet is used. The motive of this research was to gather overall Tor artifacts from memory(s), register(s), and storage(s) of the host machine. Figure 2 showcases the difference in the three mentioned above for through detailing which eventually will help in reducing some issues which Tor browser have at the moment. In short, registry analysis indicated the when addition or removal happened during the installation as well as un-installation. Memory analysis showcased the intervals while the Tor browser was used for browsing. In storage, it was observed whether some data got downloaded and stored or not. The next piece of research dwells into Smart Grid Networks (SGN) that’s empowered by permissioned blockchain and edge computing as well.
Majorly in the Western part of the world (for the time being), almost every electronic device is interconnected making the lives of humans much productive. Utilization of Internet-of-things (IoT) is one example through which smartphones get connected with home appliances and medical equipment as well. In such scenarios, security at the network level becomes crucial as if not adhered to, hackers may steal the information. Figure 2 shows the backend flow of the proposed permissioned blockchain system. Edge computing, in a nutshell, encompasses a set of sensors for data collection. You may perceive SGN (Smart Grid Network) as a communication platform which hosts centralized as we as decentralized application through numerous networking interconnections. The pivotal aspect of the proposed model is the deployment of a permissioned blockchain system which consists of 3 main layerings including edge nodes, super nodes, and smart contract layer. The role of a super node (SN) is to authenticate edge nodes that indulge in participating in voting energy activities. The super node is defined as a class of network nodes. An edge node in a blockchain system can either vote or act as a regular user. The infographic shown below is one illustration of the energy sector moving towards decentralized functioning via the utilization of smart contracts and blockchain ecosystem as a whole. In the given scenario (below info-graphic), energy/power is distributed across residents, factories, offices, ecological automobiles, etc by efficiently observing and scrutinizing how much and where to distribute for what particular interval. The Security Control Center (SEC) detects whether and/or if any disturbance(s) occurs after which the flow is corrected. The next proposed prototype assists in avoiding revealing the credentials in the public ledger via modified coconut signature scheme.
In this research, the emphasis is given towards bypassing the revelation of credentials in the public ledger through modified coconut signature scheme. The main idea behind bypassing revealing all information in the public ledger is by utilizing anonymous credentials that could be issued and authenticated in a decentralized fashion alongside an open-ended number of attributes. Using the modified coconut signature scheme, the proposed model can overcome the Sybil attack(s). The NYM framework functions via sing NYM tokens which help in data sharing in privacy for a month. The token could be stored in its chain or inside an external blockchain or even transferred to a side-chain of an existing blockchain for ease in utilization. If you want to know more about the working of the flow of NYM tokens, see figure 1. It’s mentioned about the various relationships between the user with the identity provider (IdP), the service provider (SP), and validators. Besides that from the figure you may even get to know which activity could be linkable and which would be unlinkable.
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